Form, Sexuality, and Supernatural in Sir Gawain and the Green Night and John Donne's The Flea

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1246 Words
Date:  2022-05-06

Stylistic devices are the core of plausible literature. Poets, essayists, authors, and playwrights employ different stylistic devices singly or in combination to spice up their work. The outcome of these efforts is a creation that appropriately relays the artist's message to the audience in a manner that attracts the attention of the reader. Language is one of the most common devices that producers of literary work employ. Language gives the historical and social context of the play or poem. It also depicts the communication acumen of the author. The language used in literature may vary depending on various factors. If the work is translated from its original language to another, the grammar and prose may be compromised to retain the original message by the author. Translated literature also contains phrases or words from the original version often in italics. Besides language, the themes in literature mediate between the author and the audience.

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A theme forms the connection between the creator and the reception. Once the reader understands the themes in literature, they can then comprehend the original purpose of the work and appreciate the author's efforts in completing it. There are numerous themes that authors choose in preparing literal works. However, some themes stand out exemplarily due to the ingenuity of the author in passing them across. Sexuality, for instance, is an important theme in Romantic writings. Additionally, superhuman beings and supernatural phenomenon are very common with ancient writers. A review of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and John Donne's poems illustrates the skillful application of language to pass across the themes of sexuality and supernatural among others.

The language of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is discernible from the translated version of the poem. The author of the original poem is not known. Therefore, different people have developed detailed translations of the poem that retain its original meaning. The translation by W. A. Neilson is reasonably scholarly and worth analysis by a literature students. In the poem, the poet opens up by giving the history of the English kingdom then headed by King Arthur. In this introduction the poet employs language to show the development of the various kingdoms in Europe. He constructs the names of Kingdom as derived from the founders. For instance, he attributes the foundation of Rome to Romulus and Tuscany to Ticius. The setting of the poem, Britain, he says, was the effort of Felix Brutus. Here, the poet shows that words in a language can be derived from the same root.

The content of the poem, therefore, stems from the language, although the former also influences the use of the latter. Precisely, the poet in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight rhymes the words "Gawain" and "Green" to spice the root of his content. The focus of the whole poem is on the two words. "Green," in particular is very central to the content since it describes the mysterious hero who the poet concentrates on throughout the poem. The poet mentions that "each man marveled what it might mean that a knight and his steed should have even such a hue as the green grass; and that seemed even greener than green enamel on bright gold" (Neilson 6). The poet also speaks of a Green Chapel where the Green Knight lodged. The mention of the word "green" spans the entire poem, meaning that the author's language is very important when developing the content.

The content of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the language of the poem are historically related. The poem is a medieval creation by an anonymous poet, explaining the adventure of King Arthur and his Knights. The language used in the poem is the Early Modern English that encompasses medieval words such as "thee," thou", and "ye." These words are no longer commonly used in the current version of the English language. Similarly, being a knight is no longer a symbol of valor and strength. It is not common to finds knights in war fighting for the King as they would in the medieval Britain. Some of the words that the poet uses like Noel for Christmas are no longer in common usage. In a nutshell, there is a high degree of relatedness between the language in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the content of the poem.

The language in The Flea skillfully portrays the persona's desire to have sexual intimacy with his lover. The poet uses a metaphor of a flea throughout the poem. The content of the poem is mingling of blood through sexual intimacy. Therefore, there is a clear connection between the language and the content. Since the poet wants to encrypt the persona's sexual perversion, he employs a language that perfectly does this without exposing him to animalistic sexual desires. The language of this poem is thus dependent on the theme and content.

The theme of supernatural forces is evident in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight but missing in The Flea. However, the latter explicitly discusses sexuality. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the poet describes the Green Knight as a potent being with magical powers. He carries a heavy axe in one hand without getting tired. When Sir Gawain beheads the Green Knight, the latter effortlessly picks up the severed head and rejoins it with the rest of the body. Supernatural elements in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight are symbolic of the medieval European beliefs in magic. Such phenomena exist in many other works of literature produced during this era. It describes the extent to which residents believed in magic and the transcendence of the superhuman. Magic in the context of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is also a test of resolve for the King's guard. As it unfolds later in the poem, the Green Knight was a friend of King Arthur's sister whom she used to test the courage of Sir Gawain.

Sexuality is clearly portrayed in John Donne's The Flea. The concept of sexuality is a hidden social phenomenon that symbolizes the union of two genetically unrelated people. John Donne uses a flea to depict this union and shows that sex results in the loss of innocence by the female spouse. In the poem, the man in the union woos the woman and convinces her to have sexual intimacy with him (Brumble 147). In some cases, the woman is reluctant to give in to the advances of a man, and often does the exact opposite of what the man expects of her.

From both Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Flea, language is a tool that the author employs to develop the content of their work. It is specifically used to mark the timeline of the events in literature and conceal some of the author's explicit themes. The theme of sexuality, as depicted in The Flea, is skillfully portrayed through a metaphor by John Donne. A common theme in mediaeval literature is super natural concepts that symbolizes the people believe in the existence of forces that transcend ordinary human powers. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight I, in particular, magic is a tool used by the king and his clique to test the resolve of his guard.

Works Cited

Brumble, H. David. "John Donne's' The Flea': Some Implications of the Encyclopedic and Poetic Flea Traditions." Critical Quarterly 15 (1973): 147-54.

Neilson, William Allan. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Published for the Early English Text Society By Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, 1940.

Cite this page

Form, Sexuality, and Supernatural in Sir Gawain and the Green Night and John Donne's The Flea. (2022, May 06). Retrieved from

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